Soldiers and Chiefs

The Irish at War at Home and Abroad from 1550

Winner of Best Exhibition Award at Irish Museum of the Year 2009

"For in far foreign fields from Dunkirk to Belgrade, lie the soldiers and chiefs of the Irish Brigade."

Thomas Davis

These lines evoke the fate of the Wild Geese, men who left Ireland to seek her freedom overseas. In fact there have been many Irish brigades, fighting around the world in different armies. At home Ireland has experienced war and peace, suppression and independence, conflict and calm. 

This exhibition traces military history in Ireland, and uses original artifacts, letters, replicas and interactives to show how soldiering and war have affected the lives of Irish people. Three main themes are explored through the eyes of the average Irish soldier and civilian caught up in war and conflict here in Ireland: Irish soldiers at home; Irish soldiers abroad; and Irish soldiers in the 20th Century. The exhibition also looks at the economic and social aspects of war: why soldiers join armies; women and families at war; and soldiers' personal experience of war and conflict.

The extensive collection of military artifacts, loans and recent donations have been sourced from museums all over the world. It is on permanent display over eight galleries, covering 1,700sq m in Collins Barracks.

Location: National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, 1st Floor, North Block and new building in the North East section.

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